2 min

Circumventing the bureaucrats

There were a couple of new stories out over the weekend that demonstrate the continuing antipathy that this government has for the civil service, and which show that it will go to great lengths to circumvent them. The first story is one which tells of how the political staffer of Christian Paradis, when he was the Minister of Public Works, intercepted and withheld a full report that was do be turned over as part of an Access to Information request – even though the request had been cleared. Clearly, it demonstrates that the government has something to hide in that report, and it will go around the civil service to ensure that it doesn’t get out. That’s right – strike another blow for transparency and accountability.

The other story is about how the government is hiring a “green advisor” to track and strategise with top officials on how to deal with the Americans on their own greenhouse gas emission plans. But for a $20,000 contract to a private consultant, they won’t say how this differs from what a trained civil servant like, oh, a diplomat would do. Once again, they have sent out the message that the civil service is not to be trusted.

These are just the two latest examples in an ongoing pattern of this government trying to politicise the machinery of government. Remember how, when he was first elected, Harper said that the “Liberal” civil service would keep him in check? Well, aside from that erroneous label, he’s clearly proving that he has disdain for them and their advice, and that he’s not above spending a great deal of taxpayer money (in a recession and in the face of a huge deficit) in order to get around it. Add this to the fact that he’s broken the system of ministerial accountability with the civil service, and put this into the broader perspective of his disdain for Parliament, and you have quite the picture. Let’s just hope that we remember these events come the next election.

In the event that you missed it, Jack Layton has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he plans to keep working. He then posted him reciting the very same statement from home, kitchen table in the background – on YouTube. I do have to wonder about just how long he’ll be able to keep up his schedule and keep those sleeves rolled up and working, given that he’s already had to cancel attending an event in Brampton because he wasn’t feeling up to it. This is cancer treatment, after all – it’ll take its toll. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so quick to perish the thought of temporarily turning over the reigns to someone?

The Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt takes an in-depth look at the brewing war over the female vote by the Liberals and Conservatives – and how the Liberals are speaking the language of women, while Harper is talking hockey to the boys. On her blog, she has the bonus mention (that couldn’t fit in the article itself) about how the bully tactics of the Conservatives aren’t helping them win over women either.

Up today – those Liberal roundtables continue this week, and today they’re holding discussions on lifelong learning and post-secondary education. Doctors Carolyn Bennett and Kirsty Duncan will also be hosting roundtables on the future of health and health care in Canada.
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